The F Word

*warning this post may have triggering effects linked to food or weight issues*

Hi, I’m Sarah and if you follow this blog you will know that I am a generally cheerful, confident, fun person. You will also probably know that I have lost a lot of weight (I was a size 20/22 at my largest) and have to work hard to stay a size 12 by trying to watch what I eat and running 5k three times a week.  It is not easy.It has taken me quite a while to like myself again but my body image is still a constant struggle and this blog, in part, is a tool to embrace my flawed, curvy, 40plus figure as seen by my super critical eyes.  I had a eating disorder as a teenager and still have a complicated relationship with food and my body – to try to help, I follow quite a few plus size bloggers, those who embrace their size, love their bodies and are part of the #effyourbeautystandards movement. I admire them and their confidence but I cannot feel like them sadly. Being morbidly obese was a prison sentence for me and although I seemed confident I suffered terribly from anxiety, was physically in a bad place with various aches and pains and I hated myself.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well last week during an arguement with a stranger (a man) I was called ‘fat’.  I was also called a bitch, stupid, a ho and various other insults but ‘fat’ was the one that really hurt. It got under my skin and wounded me more then any other insult and it made me think – why do people still use it as a low blow insult? A word that is used to hurt and belittle, particularly towards women.


Forgetting the fact the man saying it looked like the back end of a bus (and was hardly an Olympian himself) once that word was said I felt awful, insecure, and yes, fat. I felt ugly. I felt weak.  He had told me in his eyes I was…what? Unattractive to him? Not the perfect body shape? Imperfect?  Erm – who cares! But sadly I did care.

At my sons school they are taught the word fat is a hate word, as abusive as a swear word or racial slur and if he hears me using it he tells me off. This gives me hope that using the word to attack and hurt and undermine will end with our generation.

Body confidence is hard – every time I go on a run I put myself out there. Dressed in skin tight lycra it is scary to exercise in front of the world. It not just the actual running that’s hard, its fear of being watched, insulted, maybe even hurt…I’d say pretty much every month I get catcalled by men in cars/lorries bleeping their horns etc – they seem to think thats a compliment. Doing it every other day, regardless of those fears takes guts. 



So am I going to stop eating cake? Hell no!  Not run in public?  I’m fitter than I’ve ever been so, sorry, no. Starve myself for an ideal I can never reach, one that is perpetuated by photoshopped images anyway?  My body has done amazing things – it carried a baby, it can run for miles, ticked amazing places and experiences off my bucket list, kept me fit and healthy and my boyfriend seems pretty keen on it too!

What I do need to do is make sure that my confidence in both my inner self and the body people can see (and judge) is greater than any throwaway line or joke.  I need to hear the words when the people who care about me tell me I am beautiful and loved and perfect in their eyes.  NO-ONE male or female has the right to make you feel bad about the way you look…and the key is knowing they are not just wrong, but that they are the weak ones, the insecure ones, the ones that truly hate themselves.  I need to remind myself of this statement – 


So another pathetic human being goes on their way thinking they’ve won because they have said some throw away insult which is not based on anything apart from wanting to hurt. But you know what? People like that will never break me – I am more than words, more than their twisted ideals, more than their insecurites – I AM ME…AND AM PRETTY DARN FABULOUS!!!Find my blogs on my fitness and running here, here and here.

All photos via my Instagram – blueskygirlie

Still Running

Someone asked me the other day how I motivate myself to keep running. They wanted to run, in fact they could run a 5k OK, but they couldn’t motivate themselves to do it regularly so it wasnt having any effect.

It got me thinking – how have I bucked the trend and run 3 times a week every week for the last 2 years come rain or shine and havent given up?

Well firstly its definitely not due to any physical prowess! Let me be clear – I still find running hard – I’m tired at the end and I definitely dont look forward to it.  But the thing I’m best at is never missing a run, so these are my 5 tips for not just starting running, but keeping running…

1) Treat it like a commitment you cant get out of – when you get up for work in the morning not going in isn’t an option you consider even if you’d rather stay in bed. I treat running the same way. I have ‘running days’ that fit around my work and childcare schedule and think of them as an appointment in the day that is non-negotiable. This change in how I think about them makes them a ‘have to’ rather than a ‘might do’.


2) Provide yourself with tools that make it easier – buy yourself some bits of clothing that mean youre not reliant on good weather. Any gaps for excuses is dangerous.  A hat, snood and gloves for winter and sunglasses, vest and water bottle for summer.  We can all make excuses to get out of doing things but dont give yourself the option. Carry an ipod or phone with you and listen to music or an audiobook – if you can find ways to make yourself feel more comfortable within the act of actually running it wont seem so hard.


3) Get to know your body – your body is a machine and you need to treat it as such. Know when you’ll be running and make sure you eat a decent meal beforehand. Dont leave it too late though, everyone is different but I would suggest a gap of least 2 hours so you dont feel like youre going to see your food again! Stay hydrated too and then take some water with you particularly in the summer and you will find running so much easier. If youre a woman don’t push yourself too hard at certain times of the month – a slow steady run is still a run. And finally a small thing but its mega important, ALWAYS make sure you use the loo before you leave 🙈.


4) Revel in your acheivements and be proud!  Hey, youve done something amazing. Realise that. It shocks me how many people do no exercise at all – I used to be one of them. Share your run on social media – you might get the odd sarky comment but you know what? People that do that are just jealous (and usually doing no exercise themselves) and on the whole I find friends very supportive. Join a running community online or find followers via Strava – kudos from others can be a powerful tool.  And if all else fails treat yourself to a favourite dessert or treat with dinner that night…after all the more you run the more you can eat!!!


5) Push yourself and acheive some ‘bucket list’ goals – when I started running just the idea of running a 5k without stopping was my only goal but as I’ve gone on (and its got easier) my goals have become bigger. Trying to get better times, running with others and recently doing my first organised run – a daunting concept for me – a charity Colour Run where we got pelted with paint powder as we ran. That had been on my bucket list so I was very proud…plus I got my first running medal!

Dont wait for January with the New Years resolutions losers, or during a short-lived health kick, or even wait till Monday, start now. And then, most importantly, DO. NOT. STOP.

All images via my Instragram – follow me here.

Swarovski activity tracker jewellery

So, I don’t wear an activity tracker when lots of people do. You know why?

Well its simple – they look awful. I dont care how beneficial they can be I can’t wear an ugly bit of plastic/rubber round my wrist all day, every day. I know I’m fussy but I plan my outfits with precision…and a FitBit (or similar) just doesnt work for me style-wise.

Then I saw this advert…
 

Erm…hello!

This is what the website says –

“Swarovski and Misfit joined forces to bring the most advanced tracking technology into beautiful Swarovski jewelry.  The Swarovski Activity Crystal is designed to be always on — it has a six-month battery life and is water resistant. And it is designed to help you look great throughout your day, whether playing sports or celebrating a special occasion.”

This is how it works…

OK, thats made me fall in love a bit, it looks great but lets be honest Miranda Kerr could make anything look amazing…

 
  
 

Choice wise the look is luxe and sparkly. You can get different options with studded and diamante straps, a leather watch style strap, matching bracelets and bangles and even a pendant necklace!

   
   
Find the full range here.

But the real question is does it work well as an activity tracker or is it all style over substance?

  

You don’t need to charge it just relace the battery every 6 months or so. You can improve and track your fitness via the app where you can view your activity or sleep history by day, week or month with graphics to show number of steps, calories burned, distance travelled etc and how many points you earned towards your goal. For sleep tracking, you can see how much sleep you’ve had and how much of that was deep sleep. There’s also the usual notifications for personal bests and the option to connect your account to Facebook.

Plus its not just an activity tracker – the Swarovski Activity Crystal pairs with the app to become a smart button that can interact with connected devices.  You can take a picture or selfie or control your music…now this function I really like!   

 

Whether you think the options are gorgeous or garish, one thing’s for sure – this is a blueprint for invisible wearable tech that fits into our stylish, fashionable lives. The future is now!

The tracker is available in stores and online starting at £129 with extra straps available at £59.

It is designed to be compatable with iPhone 4s/5/5c/5s/6/6 Plus, iPod Touch 5, iPad 3/4/Air/mini, Samsung Galaxy S 4/5/6, Samsung Note 3, Google Nexus 4/5/6 and Android 4.3 BLE devices and above.

All images via Swarovski.com 

InstaNatural Argan Oil Beauty Review

I have been using a new organic range as part of my beauty routine for a while now.  I have reviewed quite a few of InstaNaturals products now (find the blogs here and here) and I have now tried out some of their Argan Oil products.
As a 43 year old who wants to look 33 (!) I do make sure I follow a good beauty regime and InstaNatural say their products are great if you have sensitive skin as the entire product line is made without alcohols, parabens and sulfates that can be irritating to the skin and none of the products are tested on animals.  In todays blog I share my thoughts on 3 of their Argan Oil based products…InstaNatural Organic Argan Oil Multipurpose mosturiser for hair, face, skin & nails – £16.95/120ml

Details: 100% pure and Eco certified Moroccan Argan Oil.  

I have been using Argan oil for a while now and really like its simplicity and multi usefulness…well I did until I realised the cheaper ‘Argan’ oil I was using had 9 other non natural (ie chemical) ingredients in it! This oil from InstaNatural is 100% pure, in a large size (which lasts ages) and is in a nice glass bottle with a pump. It feels great and worked wonders taming my thick curly hair particularly before blow drying. Use it sparingly as (maybe because its so pure) a little goes a long way and needs to be able soak in…otherwise it will make hair greasy.  InstaNatural say it is therapeutic for every skin condition and also great for Acne, dry scalps, split ends, frizzy hair, stretch marks, nail cuticles & more!  I used it on dryer areas of my skin too – knees, elbows etc and it softened them nicely as well as creating a nice ‘glow’ of my skin, great if you’re going out and showing a bit more skin than normal. With this being 100% organic/ natural there is no perfume to it, in fact it smells as you’d expect – slightly oily, but I’d much rather that than use all the chemicals I was inadvertently using before.

Argan Oil Leave in hair treatment – £11.95/120ml

Details: 100% Pure & Organic Argan Oil, Coconut Oil & Carrot Seed Oil.

Having quite thick wavy long hair, Argan oil is something I do often use in my hair to try to tame the frizz. Used sparingly this treatment by InstaNatural can be really beneficial for dry hair, or dry/split ends in particular. However if you use too much your hair will end up greasy – it took me a while to get the amount right as you don’t need more than two pumps of product to make your hair feel soft and shiny. If your hair gets tangled easily after washing I’d recommend this too.

This is an easy to apply lightweight oil which comes in a large pump action glass bottle and is filled with ingredients such as grapeseed oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and shea butter and has a mild scent. Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a twice weekly treatment rather than daily to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair.

img_4157InstaNatural Superior Hydration Argan Oil Hair Mask – £14.94/240ml

Details: Organic Argan Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Vitamin B5 & Green Tea.

This is a deep conditioning hair mask in a large tub with a screw on lid. The conditioner is thick but easy to apply from the tub – I worked it through my long hair paying particular attention to the ends as these are quite dry and left it on for about 10-15 minutes. The product has a lovely sweet smell to it, and it rinsed out well and did not leave my hair feeling greasy at all. Afterwards my hair was left feeling very soft and smooth. The hair mask has ingredients such as Argan Oil, Japanese Green Tea, Amino Acid Complex, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil and Vitamin B5 and is totally organic like all InstaNatural products.

Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a weekly treatment to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair particularly if you blow dry or straighten your hair a lot. Its gorgeous aroma lasts and was remarked upon very positively by my partner which was nice too!

The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here. All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon*

InstaNatural Retinol Skincare Range

I have been continuing to use a new range of face and body products as part of my beauty routine provided to me by US organic beauty company InstaNatural.  I have reviewed a few of their facial and body products now (find my last blog here) and today I share my review of their much praised 2.5% Retinol facial products.

So firstly – what is Retinol?  Well it is not for the faint hearted!  While it’s true there is no magic bullet when it comes to perfecting skin, this one ingredient comes pretty close.  It is a Vitamin A derivative which is proven to increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen synthesis as well as creating a skin tightening effect.  With consistent use of a topical Retinol you can see improvement of fine lines, dark spots, texture, and tone. Most over the counter products have a 0.5%-2% concentration but the stronger stuff is where its at (usually via a cosmetic doctors prescription).  Both these items from the InstaNatural range are 2.5% Retinol so on par with any cosmetically prescribed products on the market.

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InstaNatural Advanced Action Retinol Moisturiser Cream – £17.95/100ml

Details: 2.5% Retinol, 10% Vitamin C, Vegan Hyaluronic Acid, Shea Butter & Jojoba Oil, Green Tea.

Although it’s a fairly thick cream this absorbed into my skin very easily with no residue. It makes your face feel so smooth within a couple hours of applying and isn’t drying as some Retinol products can be. It also made my skin feel tighter and look clearer and has dramatically improved my fine lines and also has proved great for a base for my make-up.

I love the packaging this comes in as you don’t have to dip your fingers in to get the cream out, it comes with a pump top that dispenses just enough cream to cover both your face and neck. As well as the instructions on the packet I was also emailed instructions re exposure to the sun which I thought was very good. It is also probably double the size of many competitors products.  It is scent free (as far as I can tell) which some people might not like, but this is definitely a powerful little cream.

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InstaNatural Age Defying 2.5% Retinol Serum – £17.95/30ml

Details: 2.5% Retinol, 20% Vitamin C, 10% Hyaluronic Acid, Astaxanthin, Niacinamide, COQ10.

This is another winning product for me! A strongly orange smelling and coloured serum (well it is 20% Vitamin C) that absorbed into my skin easily, it makes your face feel so smooth within a couple hours of applying and isn’t drying as some Retinol products can be. Its a bright orange colour but this fades very quickly as its absorbed.  It also made my skin feel tighter and look clearer when used daily.

I loved the packaging this comes in too – a glass bottle with pipette – very scientific and clean looking! As well as the instructions on the box/bottle I was also emailed instructions re exposure to the sun which I thought was very good. Overall this was a very quick working and powerful product – this is definitely one of my favourite InstaNatural products I have tried so far particular when used with the Retinol Moisturiser.  You don’t expect age defying products to work and you feel kind of shocked when they do…and quickly!

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I don’t usually rave about products but these definitely WORK!  Give them a go – I definitely think I’m looking younger, my skin is looking brighter and dark spots are fading.  They are strong and you need to be careful with them but used carefully I really think these are two of the best age defying products I have tried so far!

Please note – although this prescription-strength product works fast and has great effects, it can cause irritation, redness and peeling so anyone with sensitive or drier skin might want to proceed with caution.  It also must be used carefully if you then have contact with direct sunlight.

The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here.  All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.  Have you used any of the InstaNatural range?  I’d love to know your thoughts on it…

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon* 

My health & fitness journey…the story so far!

I’m just back from a 5k run and its time for a bit on my health and fitness progress I think… My change started about 4 years ago –  going from a size 20/22 to UK 12. Now, I am by no means a preacher for how you should live your life but for me being fat was like being imprisoned in my own body. I hated myself, felt terrible, was a slave to panic attacks and suffered various aches and pains.  I had a family history of heart attacks and looking back I was a ticking time bomb.  You would never of know this though as I was always perfectly presented, with the nicest clothes, make-up etc and seemed bubbly and confident.

before and after…

 

before and after…

The history: my weight has always been an issue.  I remember being on my first diet at about 11 years old and my issues with food carried on from there.  My 16 I was about 11st ish and at a super bitchy girls school where I developed Bulima and via that, crash dieting and an old exercise bike got down to 9st 12lb by the time I returned to 6th Form that September. Of course I couldnt maintain that weight and I quickly put weight back on. During the early 90s working at Harrods, partying hard and enjoying the rave scene (plus a summer working in Greece) I slowly lost some weight and was around 12st 7lb on my return to the UK – ironically this weight became my dream weight throughout my 30s that I desperately wanted to get to. I was 13st 11lb on my wedding day – I felt great but in reality I was still a size 16/18 – my wedding dress was a size 20. I told myself it was ‘couture bridal sizes’ but the fact was I was still fat. Diets came and went, losing and putting on the same 3 stone. After the birth of my son I was at my heaviest – 16st 13lb and in desperation went liquid only for 100 days on the LighterLife plan. I lost 50lb but also felt terrible, my hair fell out and my blood pressure got so low even my doctor looked worried…and the minute I went back to normal eating my weight started going up again. I stayed big for a few years totally in denial telling myself I was big boned with a poor metalobism and that people should just accept me for who I was. I did no exercise, binge ate, had no portion control and suffered terrible anxiety.

after the birth of my son in 2006

In 2010 my best friend announced she was getting married and I decided to try and lose weight again as she had asked me to be a witness.  This time something felt different, I felt different – I was in my late 30s and so tired of being fat, feeling old and ill, being scared for my health (my father died aged just 52 of a heart attack). I joined WeightWatchers and over a year or so slowly lost weight, started walking as much as I could and going to the gym doing Vibroplate to tone up. This coincided with some big life changes and I stopped attending group and just kept up the dieting at home using the MyFitnessPal app to track my food and find support. By 2012 I was 11st 11lb and well below my ‘dream weight’ from that summer in Greece, a comfortable size 12/14 and for a while that seemed perfect.

But something niggled me…I knew I could do better. In 2013 I decided I would try one last push to see if I could lose another stone and started running using the C25k app. I was petrified of high impact exercise – it took me a year or so to run 5k without stopping but I run 3 times a week every week running on holidays and even on Boxing Day!
Its been hard.  Very hard.  And I haven’t got to that illusive goal weight. Who knows, but for now the pain required outweighs the benefits…the body I have at 42 is not going to be the one I had at 16! I’m still technically very slightly overweight but I’m ok with that – I am so proud of the body (and new person) I have created. The saddest part as I write this is I remember every weight, at every point in my life. That’s how I judge myself. Thats how I remember things. I realise now I am more than a weight, that I have beaten my demons and found a way to change my lifestyle forever.  Its not easy but its so worth it.

And most importantly I run whether its hot…

…or cold….with no excuses. And I watch what I eat. Simple really.

The here and now: So where am I currently? Ah the joy of weight maintenance and regular exercise with no excuses! I run 3 times a week without fail, my speeds are ok but I’m trying to get faster. I’ve been working on fat burning around my torso area to make it more defined especially my rib area (see pic below). The hardest part of all this is keeping the same weight while living a ‘normal’ life…holidays, parties, nights out and generally enjoying eating all are a part of life and not something that should be given up. After a bit of overindulgence on holiday I’m currently back dieting to lose a few pounds again. But thats the difference now – my weight will go up and down, the trick is only have to lose 1/2 stone not 3,4,5,6 stone…! Losing weight is relatively easy, but keeping it off? Now thats hard – for me its been like rebuilding myself from the inside out and a challenge I face every single day…

My current maintenance routine:

  • Restricted calories 5-6 days a week (1750kcals) but any exercise undertaken tops this up
  • All food tracked every day but treat day
  • 3 x 5k runs a week
  • Minimum 1 hour of walking a week
  • Low salt, low fat, teetotal

Saturday is my cheat day and I enjoy it, lets just leave it there 😆


What I’ve learned – 

  • Change is a very frightening thing for me.
  • The pain of exercise & not eating what I want is tough but the rewards are better.
  • Its hard to not obsess over every lb but weight is not the perfect measure of success.
  • Free apps and having the right kit can really help a fitness/weight loss journey – and they dont need a lot of money spent on them.
  • Mental heath and physical fitness are irretrievably linked. Wellness is everything.
  • Not giving into my food addictions is a non stop battle on par with alcoholism or drug addiction.
  • Find an eating plan that works for you. If you want fatty processed food once in a while (oh hello, Dominoes) then have it, enjoy it, but remember you’ll have to work harder the next day to balance it out. I eat a small chocolate bar most days but I make sure I keep my other portions small and within my calorie allowance. I realised early on that if I tried to live off of lettuce and juices I was just going to get depressed.
  • Vanity often drives weightloss (it did mine) but feeling healthy, strong and powerful is the best feeling in the world.
  • I’m realistic that having to stick to this for the rest of my life will be tough but I could never bear to go back to the old version of me.

…but I’m winning my own personal battle. I’m not totally happy with myself (who is?) but I’m very proud of the changes I’ve made – not bad for a 5’2″ 42 year old mum who used to be a size 20/22! No-one can or should tell you how to be or look, but for me being ‘normal weight’ has improved my life no end as my addictions had made me ill both mentally and physically.

me now…

 

Good health is everything and I aim to hang on to mine as long as I can.   

All photos via my Instagram

Find the c25k app here

Find the MyFitnessPal community here

Find your nearest weightwatchers group here

InstaNatural Organic Beauty Range

I was recently asked by American organic skincare company InstaNatural if I wanted to become one of their beauty reviewers, championing organic and ethical beauty to look and feel great. At 42 I have become more focused on keeping my face and body from aging any faster than they needed to so I jumped at the chance to try out their products! InstaNatural say their products are great if you have sensitive skin as the entire product line is made without alcohols, parabens and sulfates that can be irritating to the skin and none of the products are tested on animals.  So, what did I think?

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog
Facial skincare – 

Eye serum £15.97/30ml: This product smelt lovely (the grapefruit notes come through perfectly) and felt very fresh and invigorating to put on. It claims to reduce eye bags, crow’s feet, fine lines, sagging skin and puffiness. So, does this work? Over about 10 days use I definitely felt the puffiness underneath my eyes had reduced and will definitely be continuing to use it. My fine lines appear less too as does the darkness under my eyes. Its bright orange but don’t be put off be put off as this disappears immediately on patting it into your skin and a little goes a VERY long way. I found if I used too much a residue was left so quickly reduced the amount I put underneath my eyes (using the rather nifty glass pipette) and a nice product to use day and night.  Find my original review with before and after photos here.

Facial toner £17.95/120ml: The toner is really refreshing and has a lovely fresh smell thanks to grapefruit, geranium, lavender and lemon oils. It has a high content of Aloe Vera too so it’s also very hydrating to help replace lost moisture and perk up a tired complexion. So, does this work? I use a lot of beauty products but every so often one comes along I absolutely love and this is one of them! On the one hand it is a toning product that kept my skin feeling clean and clear – my pores have never looked better and my skin is glowing and feels great. But I also loved it as a general skin refresher/cooler and it works brilliantly stored in the fridge on hot days and I think would be great as a holiday product for poolside use. It feels so refreshing to use and the zesty smell awakens you in the morning.  But the thing I liked most about it was the spray bottle as I’d never come across a toner dispensed like this before but its so simple and so good it amazes me that all toners aren’t like this! I just love it!

Night cream £17.95: Firstly you get a lot of face cream for your money – 100mls worth which is brilliant and much bigger than most pots of face cream. Its supposed to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, hyper pigmentation & uneven skin tone – all guaranteed! So, does this work? After using it my skin the next day felt nicely moisturised, refreshed and looked brighter. The product smelt lovely – the smell is quite calming and it was easy to use in a pump format with very little mess or wastage. Although it can be used day and night I only used it at night as it is quite a rich cream – again the rose like smell was a nice scent to go to sleep smelling! This cream definitely helped the general reddening which I experience on my face fade which was great and my pores seemed better too.


Body skincare – 

Scar gel £21.95/30ml: I used this on a newish scar on my arm which was bothering me. The scar being new (well 6 months ish old) was red and slightly raised. The bottle says it helps to diminish and erase scars over time by making them less visible in appearance and can be used for surgical scars, acne scars, burns or other dark spots. So, does this work? It can be a little sticky if you use too much but I’m definitely going to continue to use this and try it on some old stretch marks too. The product is easy to use in a small pump action container and a little goes a long way. Since using the product the redness of my scar has disappeared and it has took on more a look of pigmentation in my skin. It also has gone a lot flatter. I’m using twice a day so definitely think continued use will make the scar look even less obvious.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog Stretch mark cream £21.95/100ml: This is a fresh smelling cream in a large pot, with a lovely fresh smell. It smells so nice – ingredients include aloe vera, rosehip, mango and grape.  You can use it anywhere you have stretch marks and I mainly used it on my tummy, thighs and hips where I have marks from having my son and growth/weight gain/loss. It feel very nice to put on and I used it regularly. So, does this work? It does! My skin is definitely feels firmer and I can see the few red marks going ‘clear’ already! I was very surprised. Its very nourishing too which I think helps…I am raving about this one!  I found that my skin looked in much better condition and it felt like it was tighter.  Obviously you cant remove existing stretch marks but this has helped significantly and definitely fades them. A little goes a long way too so although its not cheap (but hey what decent beauty product is!) I would say its worth it.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Cellulite cream £21.95/100ml: This is a thick cream, with a very light flowery smell. I don’t have a lot of cellulite but definitely would like to improve the texture of the skin on my thighs/bottom. The main ingredients are caffeine, retinol and vitamin C and the cream is definitely highly moisturising and hydrating. A little goes a long way and it spread easily on to my skin from the pot and you can use it anywhere you have skin that needs firming. So, does this work? Well my skin is definitely feels more hydrated and the areas I wanted to treat feel less dimpled. My skin feels supple, smoother and pampered when I use it and I hope it will reduce the appearance of my dimples even more, although personally I think you’d need to add massage of some kind and exercise too.

instanatural organic vegan ethical beauty review via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Look out for further reviews as I discover more of the range. The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here.  All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon*

I am a runner, hear me roar!!!

I am a runner.  I run 5k (3.5 miles ish) 3 times a week. Not a big deal?  Actually it is.

Two years ago I couldnt run for 5 minutes. And 5 years ago I was more than 90lb heavier than I am now. So to me its a huge deal…and I’m very proud of myself.

I run obsessively.  I rarely miss a run and run regardless of weather, illness or date (I even ran on Boxing Day). Me and my fiancé even do runs on our holidays – we’ve done runs in France, Spain & Denmark so far!!! It has changed my life…as well as my body – in the last year my weight hasn’t changed much but I’ve gone from a UK 12/14 to a size 10.  My anxiety (which I’ve suffered from for as long as I can remember) has pretty much disappeared and I feel for the first time, totally in control of my body and health.

But today lets talk clothing – what to wear for running when you love your clothes.  Fashion is one thing but running gear needs to be fit for purpose, so I stick one one brand – Karrimor.  I buy it via Sports Direct where it is greatly reduced and in my opinion its just great – many runners swear by the brand.  Its tight fitting but great! 

On my feet I wear Puma Descendent’s – I have 2 pairs I alternate, one older black and pink pair and a newer white and pink pair (more for summer) plus supportive/padded running socks.

THE KIT:

Fitted long sleeve running top – this is great as a base layer or as a top when its a bit colder. For summer, short sleeve versions are available (plus vests for the 3 days in the year its hot enough 😄).  Whats great about them? Bright colour and reflective stripes for visibility, mesh panels to help the body breathe and a tight fit that wont stretch or go out of shape. 

karrimor running clothing via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

karrimor running clothing via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog  

Running tights – yes they are a bit scary if you have a few lumps and bumps you want to hide, but my view is, if anyone dared to make a comment youre the one running and theyre the ones sitting on their lardy asses! They are strangely flattering actually and where they are tight they act like shapewear.  Whats great about them?  Zipped back pocket, reflective details, zips at ankles.

karrimor running clothing via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog  

Hat and headband –  whether is cold or hot these do the job.  A hat is imperative in the winter and I love the headband to cover my ears on windy days when my hair is tied back. Whats great about them?  Reversible hat (pink is great for visibilty), a tight fit that wont stretch or go out of shape. 

karrimor running clothing via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Underwear – you definitely can’t start running without a sports bra!  That and trainers are the two things you can’t do without. I personally find Berlei bras really good and use a non wired version that you can also wear as a crop top. High impact is definitely the way to go. Obviously depends on your bust size but as I’ve still got D cup boobs I need them contained! Pants wise I’m still working on finding the perfect solution LOL. Some runners adocate going commando but I’m not so sure.  My view currently is to wear seamless high waist pants that wont ride up or be too fussy – not sexy but hey, youre working out.  Plus your bum is going to look a lot sexier in the long run!!! 

Vest & cropped leggings – in the summer I go lightweight as I can’t stand being too hot. Capri leggings or shorts are perfect and a vest replaces my normal runnung tops.

Whats great about them?  Breathable panels, zipped back pocket.

  

 Trainers –  Puma Descendents.  Whats great about them?  Lightweight, supportive, breathable mesh toe section.

Puma Descendent trainers via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog  

Puma Descendent trainers via blueskygirlie at Always a Blue Sky Girl blog 

Fitness clothes do not have to be expensive – my last pair of trainers cost less than £20 and the running pieces start from around £4 at Sports Direct.  A word of warning though, once you buy a few bits you just cant stop building up your running wardrobe!

If I’ve inspired you to try running at all I’d recommend the c25k app which trains you from walking to doing a full 5k run (and beyond).  I was terrified but it really works. Give it a go, it might change your life!

All clothing – Karrimor via Sports Direct

Sports bra – Berlei 

Trainers – Puma 

InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Serum

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to be sent InstaNatural’s new eye serum to try.  As a 42 year old mum with all the stresses and strains of normal life, anything that can help me look younger or slow down the aging process is of interest to me! Youth Express Eye Serum c/o InstaNatural*

So what does InstaNatural say about its product?

Wake Up Those Tired, Saggy, Puffy Eyes and Diminish Those Dark Circles with a Daily Dose of our Youth Express Eye Serum. Our Eye Serum contains a supercharged blend of antioxidants and other nourishing ingredients that help restore health & youth to the eye area.

So far so good… They say it reduces appearance of dark circles, puffiness & saggy eyes, diminishes the appearance of wrinkles & fine lines, hydrates the eye area to prevent premature aging and helps you achieve a more radiant, brighter complexion.  

The serum contains a blend of antioxidants and other ingredients including Vitamin C, Plant Stem Cells, Caffeine, Niacinamide (which inhibits hyperpigmentation) and Hyaluronic Acid (which moisturizes the skin to reduce skin problems that occur due to age).   It is also organic and cruelty-free.

My first impressions were that it smells lovely – very fresh and grapefruity, feels invigorating to put on and a little goes a very long way. At around £20.00 for a 30ml bottle, you use very small amounts at a time dispensed via a nifty glass pipette. 

The next thing I noticed was it was orange, very orange!  I neednt of worried though, as the colour disappears fast as you pat it on.  The instructions say you can use it morning and night and add make-up over it if required.  I found if I added concealer etc., it left a slight residue so I focused on using it nightly as I would any other serum. 

So, here are my eyes before – make-up free and in stark light (urrrghhh!!!).  I am smiling in the lower picture to show the lines under my eyes –  
 

And after – 

 

There is definitely a difference in the puffiness under my eyes and particularly when I smile. The lower picture looks pretty much the same as the one above it but I was definitely grinning! I don’t have a lot of lines as yet (thank you good genes!) but I think the fine ones I do have, have lessened too.  It is important to remember this is only with two or so weeks of use and I will definitely continue to use it and hopefully see even more improvement. 

So, would I recommend it?  Well on the results I’ve seen so far I would – its definitely making a difference to the look of my undereyes.  It feels nice to use and will last ages too so thats another plus.  I dont think I’d use it in the mornings myself but as part of my nightime skincare regime InstaNaturals has my vote! 

You can buy the serum (plus other products from the Instanaturals range) via Amazon here.  Are you a InstaNaturals fan?  What products from the range would you recommend?